This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Goodnight everyone, and have a holy weekend!

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.

Pope John Paul II

It's Friday night. Time to unwind with our regular Friday night feature on This Just In.

The weekend has finally arrived.

The sun has set.

The evening sky has erupted.

Let's put controversy and provocative blogs aside for the rest of this work week and smooth our way into Saturday and Sunday.

This is Holy Week, the most sacred time of the year for Christians.

Tonight, sounds of the season.

1969 was an incredible year for popular music. Not only was there great quality, there was a wide variety of chart toppers.  Here’s just a sample…

Proud Mary/CCR

I Can’t Get Next to You/Temptations

Pinball Wizard/The Who

My Way/ Frank Sinatra

The Thrill is Gone/B.B. King

Sweet Caroline/Neil Diamond

A Boy Named Sue/Johnny Cash

Lay Lady Lay/Bob Dylan

Sugar, Sugar/The Archies

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head/B.J. Thomas

Hawaii Five-0/The Ventures

In 1968, Edwin Hawkins took a young gospel choir he founded and recorded eight songs, including an old  gospel hymn Hawkins would later admit that it “was not our favorite song to perform.”

One year later, a San Francisco DJ played “Oh Happy Day” on the radio. Dorothy Morrison sang lead vocal:

Oh, happy day
When Jesus washed
oh when he washed
he washed my sins away!

Just a few years ago, jazz piano legend Ramsey Lewis recorded his own version...

In New Orleans, some funerals follow a special tradition. As part of the service if you will, a brass band leads the procession to the cemetery. During the march, church hymns are played, but very slowly setting a sad tone. The band members are normally dressed in black.

Following the funeral, the band leads a procession back to the neighborhood of the deceased and the hymns played area bit faster and happier to show the individual is now in a much better place.

Next up, one of the most popular New Orleans funeral hymns…

You can find them regularly on public television: huge gospel programs with dozens of singers onstage.

During the performance of a gospel classic, a rare impromptu moment of humor breaks out supplied by the late J.D. Sumner, a one-time back up back-up singer to Elvis who at one time was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the deepest voice.

Before that video, here's a great story from

"Elvis Presley was only 16 when he first heard the powerful voice of J.D. Sumner. So captivated by the deep melodias tones produced by this great man, he would sneak in the back door of the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis. The two men soon formed a bond that would last throughout their lives.

In the early 1950s, Southern gospel quartets had such established popularity that the performances on the circuit would frequently sell out auditoriums seating 5,000 people or more. One of the biggest shows, however, was the National Quartet Convention. When the convention was in town each year, Elvis, who had scratched and saved to purchase a ticket, would attend and listen to the gospel music he loved. He became familiar to the members of the leading quartets, including J. D. Sumner, who performed with the Blackwoods at that time and was known as the 'lowest bass singer in the world'.

Elvis especially loved the deep, sonorous tones of the bass singers and the characteristic way they would boom out the short lead phrases that gave Southern gospel choruses their punch.

Ellis Auditorium was also the location for shows by leading quartets such as the Statesmen from Atlanta, and especially the Blackwood Brothers, who were from Memphis and often promoted singing events featuring themselves and other groups.

On one occasion, J. D. Sumner noticed that the young boy who had been attending the sings so faithfully was absent. Then, the next time, he was back. When he had the opportunity to speak to Elvis, J.D. asked him where he was at the last concert and why he hadn't attended. Elvis replied that he didn't have enough money for a ticket. J.D. told him he wouldn't need any money from that point on. 'You just come to the stage door and I'll let you in for nothing'. And that's the way it remained. Later, J.D. said, 'About the next thing I knew he was letting me in his stage door'. It was the beginning of one of the most enduring friendships of Elvis Presley's life."

That’s it for this week’s entry.

We close with the performer, who, according to his website, “is the only person, so far, to become a member of all three of these halls of fame - Rock and Roll, Country and Gospel.”

Strangely, his only three Grammy Awards (other than a Lifetime Achievement Award) were for sacred recordings.


In 1974, Elvis returned to his hometown of Memphis for some concerts that resulted in a live album. One of the songs received one of those rare Grammy Awards for the King, Best Inspirational Performance.


Sleep well.

Have a joyous Easter weekend.


From the same 1974 concert:


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